De Lille's removal was incorrectly applied, Mpofu tells the court

2018-05-11 14:03
Patricia de Lille appears in court ahead of her urgent matter asking to temporarily suspend the DA's decision to cease her membership. (Paul Herman, News24)

Patricia de Lille appears in court ahead of her urgent matter asking to temporarily suspend the DA's decision to cease her membership. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Patricia de Lille's cessation as a member of the Democratic Alliance, the City of Cape Town council, and her removal from her seat as mayor, was unprocedural, advocate Dali Mpofu has argued.

Counsel for De Lille, the city, the city manager, and the DA met in the Western Cape High Court on Friday to argue the merits of De Lille's application for urgent relief in her matter with the DA.

De Lille wants the court to temporarily suspend the DA's ratification of her cessation from the party, so that the merits can be argued in full at another date.

LIVE: 'Unconstitutional' to use cessation clause to remove elected leader - court hears in De Lille matter

Before proceedings, Judge Patrick Gamble and Judge Monde Samela informed the court that the parties agreed they would debate the merits of the case in full on May 25.

The matter before the courts therefore was to determine if De Lille was entitled to urgent relief, given the balance of conveniences.

Procedural irregularities

De Lille's counsel, Mpofu and advocate Johan de Waal, zeroed in on arguments of procedural irregularities in the DA's application of the so-called "cessation clause".

Included in their arguments was that the 24 hours was not a long enough time to allow for "natural justice" and right of reply.

WATCH LIVE: De Lille vs the DA

They cited case law where the Western Cape High Court had ruled in another matter involving an ACDP councillor that 48 hours was too short a time to give responses.

Also, the panel set up to deal with the De Lille matter by the party's federal legal commission was "irregularly appointed", according to the party's own rules, Mpofu claimed.

Lastly, the notification by the DA to the City of Cape Town of the vacancy should have been performed by the provincial leader of the party in the Western Cape.

Instead, the letter was sent by federal council chairperson James Selfe, Mpofu said.

They therefore needed urgent relief, as the city could not wait another two weeks for the matter to be resolved, given that there currently was no mayoral committee and confusion over who was mayor.

"What inconceivable inconvenience can the DA suffer if Patricia de Lille resumes her post for two weeks? Zero," Mpofu said.

"Compared to the multitude of inconveniences if the city is left to linger longer."

'Patently clear' context

If the court finds in two weeks that the matter was unprocedurally followed, then that would mean De Lille was still a member of the DA "now, today".

De Waal also went into whether the DA correctly interpreted Ms De Lille's words when she said she would "walk away" after clearing her name during a radio interview with Radio 702 on April 26.

"What if someone says I will resign from the DA when I reach the age of 70 years old? Must that person lose their membership?" De Waal asked the court.

Mpofu also cited the flow of the interview, claiming it was "patently clear" that the context of the conversation with Radio 702 was in her capacity as mayor.

Even during the interview, she says she served as mayor "at the behest and as a member of the DA".

"And yet this person supposedly said in the same interview she wants to resign," he said.

"A proper interpretation of this interview shows there was no proper intention to resign [as a member of the party]."

Gamble and Samela said they only needed to understand that the point was arguable, they didn't need to go further into merits yet.

Mpofu claimed that even Selfe acknowledged in responding papers that De Lille "did not realise" that her remarks on air would lead to her cessation, and therefore is proof there was "no intention".

"Thank you very much James Selfe. Absent the subjective intention to resign, the whole house of cards must fall, and will fall in two weeks' time."

Mpofu wrapped before court adjourned for lunch, saying De Lille technically was still a member of the DA, the council and was therefore still mayor, because of the irregularities.

Opposing counsel was still due to argue before court on Friday, and would do so after lunch.

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Read more on:    da  |  city of cape town  |  patricia de lille  |  cape town

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